By ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
Another law that implements the Regalian Doctrine provision of the 1987 Constitution is RA 7586 otherwise known as the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992. It designates protected areas of land and water that due to their unique physical and biological diversity this law provides that it be protected against destructive human exploitation. It categorizes these areas as strict nature reserve, natural park, natural monument, wildlife sanctuary, protected landscapes and seascapes, resource reserve, natural biotic areas and other categories established by law, conventions or international agreements which the Philippine government is a signatory.
Most of the defined protected areas and those categorized are found in areas where indigenous people reside. The law declares, under Section 5, paragraph a: gall areas or islands of the Philippines proclaimed, designated or set aside, pursuant to a law, presidential decree, proclamation or executive order as national park, game refuge, bird and wildlife sanctuary, wilderness area, strict nature reserve, watershed… before the effectivity of this act are hereby designated as initial components of the system.
Applying this in the Cordillera region, those areas that fall under the above-mentioned provision as initial components of the system are those declared as national park like the Mt. Data National Park in Mountain Province and Mount Pulag in Benguet; and watershed like the Upper Agno watershed reservations and Angat watershed reservations. The upper Agno reservation was declared for the dams along the Agno: Ambuclao, Binga and San Roque.
It is also interesting to note that this law provides for the protection of plants, insects and animals rather than the rights of indigenous people as human beings. The single provision of this law on ancestral lands failed to provide for IP rights to their ancestral lands. While it is true that this lawfs provision on ancestral domain provides that the DENR shall prescribe rules to govern ancestral lands within the protected area and that the IPs shall not be evicted without their consent, a latter provision (Section 20) provides for the prohibited acts within the protected areas which include, among others, hunting or mere possession of any plants or products derived there from without permit from the Environment Management Board.
While I appreciate the protection of the areas through the system, it must be noted that these areas are very well protected up to the present because of the indigenous peoplef practice of sustainable development. So it must be noted that this law therefore provides for the legalization of the displacement of IPs who had been in the protected areas prior to the enactment of the law.
It gives license to the State to drive out IPs of the gprotected areash. It provides for the confinement of economic activities in the classified Buffer Zones surrounding the declared protected area. This law therefore repeats the displacement of IPs from their lands that was spared by the state in pursuance of the Regalian Doctrine concept and will further the marginalize IPs who had for a long time been neglected by the government.
The NIPAS law also intends for the protection of natural and scenic areas within the thrust of eco-tourism. While eco-tourism may provide supplement to the livelihood of communities near the natural and scenic areas, any activity of such kind is geared towards commercialization rather than protection and its effect is negative to the socio-cultural and economy of the IPs. In fact, the indigenous culture and tradition are being commercialize to attract tourists for the benefit of big businesses and the government.
This law allows the government through the DENR Secretary to perform any which include act to enter into contracts and/or agreements with private entities or public entities; accept NGOs and the private sector as maybe necessary to accomplish the objectives and activities of the system. One main objective of the law is the protection of biodiversity. Useful and medicinal plants, insects and even animals are among those found in the categorized and declared protected areas. With the above provision, with the principle of reciprocity under the Intellectual Property Rights law, and with the Philippine governmentfs ratification of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and as a new member of the WTO, foreign pharmaceutical corporations are given license to patent medicinal plants, insects and animals. This is concretized through the patenting by foreign corporations of banaba leaves, Philippine snail, lagundi and sambong.
If the new IPR law and the GATT provisions on trade related intellectual property rights (TRIPS), IPs and other Filipinos are legally prohibited from utilizing such patented materials or products. It must be noted that IPs had been practicing a sustainable system of using, nurturing and conserving local biodiversity that is not only beneficial to the whole community but to those who are actually in need of any such product. This IP system contradicts the profit-oriented foreign concept of patenting.
In the guise of protecting the environment, one can be easily deceived to support the program. But this law is primarily designed to serve the interests of the multi-national and trans-national corporations (MNCs/TNCs) through the patenting of medicinal plants, animals and insects. First, they delineated the land of the IPs as public land for its minerals. Now, they want our plants, insects and animals for patenting, and maybe, we will wake up one day day with the genes of some IPs already patented by these MNC/TNC pharmaceutical corporations. # nordis.net